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MacBook Air rival could be coming from HP

Hewlett-Packard may have a MacBook Air competitor in the pipeline, according to statements from the CEO as well as an Asia-based report.

Comments from Hewlett-Packard's CEO and a report out of Asia indicate that HP may have a design that rivals the MacBook Air in the works or even ready to go.

At last month's D9 conference, no one other than HP's chief executive, Leo Apotheker, dropped hints about a newfangled laptop design. Responding to a question about the iPad, he said, "If you use a state-of-the-art laptop it is as sleek, as slim as [an iPad]"... Then, after being challenged about whether HP actually had such a laptop, he quickly followed up with, "There's a whole new product refresh coming out."

A report may be adding some flesh to that statement. Today, Taipei-based DigiTimes said HP is expected to launch "two or more" Ultrabooks.

The closest that HP has gotten to an Ultrabook in recent years is the 0.8-inch thick aluminum/magnesium-clad Envy 13--which was discontinued.
The closest that HP has gotten to an Ultrabook in recent years is the 0.8-inch thick aluminum/magnesium-clad Envy 13, which was discontinued. HP

What is an Ultrabook? In a word, thin. Intel, the main proponent, describes the Ultrabook as combining the performance of a laptop with "tablet-like features" in a "thin, light, and elegant design."

More specifically, the maximum thickness for an Ultrabook is pegged at 20 millimeters, or about 0.8 inches, with most designs eventually expected to fall below that.

What does one look like? Asus is already brandishing the UX21, which the company says is due sometime around the fall. Looking very much like a MacBook Air, the UX21 is 17mm (a little more than half an inch) at its thickest point and just over 2 pounds. And Samsung is already selling the Series 9, which is, in effect, an Ultrabook.

Generally, other features include a solid-state drive, instant-resume, and battery-life extending power management. And an Ultrabook won't break the bank. Pricing is targeted at less than $1,000 for systems shipping later this year.

HP's laptops will use power-efficient Intel Core i7 Sandy Bridge processors, according to the report. Manufacturing is being done by Foxconn Electronics, the same company that makes many Apple products, DigiTimes said.

And Apple is expected to update the MacBook Air very soon with Intel Sandy Bridge processors, making the popular Apple laptop very competitive with any Windows-based offering from HP, Samsung, or Asus.

HP could not be reached for comment.